Salvation in Isaiah 11
In the midst of the prophecies to Israel and Judah about war – about invasion – about bloodshed and then recovery, rescue and a remnant’s salvation, the prophet Isaiah brings a refreshing announcement!
It is the announcement of a King who will come! A Righteous King – a glorious King – a King who is God and the Sovereign Monarch of the ages who will come as a man, from Isaiah’s perspective, to rule and reign righteously – not like today’s monarch’s – presidents, dictators, and potentates who are mere men, fragile and sinful and without God. This King is the Almighty God – the Lord Jesus Christ.
We will think about this coming King in three ways from the first few verses of this passage in Isaiah 11.
1. The PEDIGREE of the King
2. The POWER of the King
3. The PEACEFUL REIGN of the King
Let’s consider the first of these
1. The PEDIGREE of the King
A Pedigree is a family history – similar to a genealogy. The word comes from the French PIED – DE - GRUE meaning crane’s foot, the shape of an arrowhead figure used in depicting pedigrees.
Verse 1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
We had, a couple of weeks ago, the preview of the Messiah in Chapter 9 v 6 - 7. Now the vision is enlarged with the King of the future identified, as one sprouting like a branch from a dead looking tree stump. The chapter divisions were not in the original, as we know. So verse 1 appears as a stark contrast to the proud cedar of Lebanon mentioned in the previous verses from Chapter 10 –
33 Behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, shall lop the bough with terror: and the high ones of stature shall be hewn down, and the haughty shall be humbled. 34 And he shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one.
These thoughts were about Assyria – that proud tall upright and haughty cedar who conquered Lebanon – but who was stopped short 2 miles from Jerusalem.
The contrast is the terms – now a TWIG will sprout from the tree stump. Now a SHOOT will come up from the roots.
Last Autumn I cut down a Selanum shrub in the back garden – potato plant – beautiful blue flowers on a rampantly growing bush type shrub that grows rapidly if you let it – to tree like proportions. I cut it almost to the ground. All winter it remained dead looking – no growth – just a stumpy stem sticking up 6 inches above the ground. Now that spring is here – there is a shoot – a green leaf is developing from that dead looking stump and the plant is demonstrating that it is still alive.
Then we do not have any Lilac in the garden – but we have had it in the past. If you know anything of that tree and it is growing near a lawn, you tend to wish it further because of the suckers that come up several feet from the base of the trunk – little shoots that quickly become woody and hard to remove. They are new lilac trees growing up from a root. Raspberries tend to do the same.
What are they to mean to us? Isaiah is describing the humble beginnings of the King who would come. He would not come in a grand manner – like a cedar tree – his coming would be lowly; He would grow under the delighted eyes of Jehovah God. His father would say of Him – “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” The twig or the branch from the stump; and the shoot from the roots are two assuring illustrations of the same one person who would come – from an already existing plant – the house of David the great King of Israel was as good as dead – but not quite. Satan had tried his best to annihilate the pedigree, the family line.
Sometimes a family tree comes to an end. A generation occurs where none of the children marry and the end is reached. Satan knew the potential of power that the promised king would have and that He would come from David’s family. This family was under particular attack from its very beginning. Trace the history of many of its kings – and then the captivity and swallowing up of the People of God in Assyria first and then Babylon. The enemies first took the nobles and high-ranking families along with their royal families. Sometimes they were executed to ensure that there would be little rebellion.
The Royal family of Israel, the Northern Kingdom met with such an end when the Assyrians took them.
But not so with Judah, David’s family. Remarkably Luke and Matthew are able to show in their genealogies, or pedigrees of Jesus His direct line back to King David – both through Mary and through Joseph! Even thought the house of David had become so degenerate so that it resembled the stump of a felled tree, yet a twig would grow out of it, which would take the place eventually of the whole trunk. God is never caught off guard and he preserved that family line – to keep His word to Isaiah and God’s people.
One more thing before we move on to the next point – the shoot is mentioned – the shoot from the root of the same tree. The Hebrew word for shoot here is NETZER. Basically it means to shine or blossom and then to develop and bear fruit. The word NAZARENE comes from this word and this is what Jesus was called in Matthew 2 v 23
And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.
We could be forgiven for thinking that Jesus was called a Nazarene because He came from Nazareth – now we can see that this is not the case – He is called a Nazarene because He is the green shoot that came up, shone and blossomed with new life! It is a wonderful picture.
2. The POWER of the King
The next few verses describe the perfect character and virtues of the King who will come – the Lord Jesus Christ. What a description they are of our Saviour –
2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; 3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
We are often perplexed aren’t we, with the relationship between the persons of the sacred Holy trinity – of Father, Son and Holy spirit.
There is an implication here that Jesus was influenced by the Holy Spirit when at His Baptism the dove descended and a voice sounded and Jesus somehow changed at that moment. But that is clearly not right. The Lord Jesus Christ was filled with the Spirit from the womb of Mary. That holy child being formed in Mary was of the Holy Ghost. Jesus was never without the Holy Ghost, like you and me are never without our souls until we die. But even though the Holy Spirit was constantly in Him in a powerful way the Holy Spirit was said to come upon Him marking the beginning of His public ministry.
We can understand it like this. When Isaiah says that
the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
he expresses the complete delight of the Father in His Son and of the abiding nature of His virtues. Jesus was oh so qualified to be the perfect man that Adam was not after the fall and we are not by nature.
Notice this about Him.
1. The spirit of the LORD rested upon him.
This is the central fact of the character of Jesus. Flowing from this central fact is
This spirit is one of wisdom and understanding.
Wisdom discerns the nature of things – Their underlying causes and consequences of things.
Understanding discerns their differences and enables the King to make the proper judgements in response to wisdom’s insight.
These two spiritual qualities were superbly perfect in the Lord Jesus Christ – and for men there are some dim recollections of them in their quest for wisdom and desire for understanding. These are mental powers – how perfectly the Lord Jesus Christ summed things up when he met them – he knew the minds of Pharisees – he knew the hearts of the poor and destitute around Him – he understood the hearts of kings and governors and judged righteous judgment every time.
Does this not give us confidence to be subject to Him as our God? He understands us better than we understand ourselves! His word directs us in His wisdom!
2. the spirit of counsel and might
Counsel is the ability to adopt right conclusions in any given situation. This is direction in determining a plan or formulating a solution.
Might is the power exercised in carrying the plan or solution out through to achievement. No doubt much of this is going on amongst the aggressors and defenders in the war at the moment – this is the same word when used as a COUNSEL OF WAR. However the Lord Jesus Christ’s counsel is not for war but for peace, as we shall see. These characteristics, counsel and might, are as closely related as the first two. Indeed we came across them in Isaiah 9 – wonderful Counsellor – the Mighty God. How wonderful to have a Mighty counsellor on our side involved with all that goes on in the world – He has not let go or lost control of His universe!
3. the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
The Knowledge of Jehovah is to do with a relationship – it is to do with fellowship, which implies knowledge. Knowledge is the full and complete comprehension of God and man. How can you have fellowship with someone that you do not know? It is difficult until you know one another. Jesus knows His Father so well. They were together at the creation – even before that – before the foundation of the world. John 17 v 5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
And Jesus knows man well too – so much so that he became a man like us – Jesus knows our every weakness.
The Fear of the Lord that appears next in the text is the seventh in this list of spiritual qualities of Jesus the King. Fear of the Lord speaks of the enjoyment of the presence of Jehovah, in reverence and due regard for Him, His glory and His will. This reverence then ensures that anything that would displease Him would be avoided. Indeed verse 3 goes on to say that
And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD:
Quick understanding here can mean delight – His delight shall be the fear of the lord God.
This branch this shoot will delight to render full obedience and complete service in accord with the will of Jehovah.
Some say that these 7 characteristics correspond to central and six lateral branches of the Jewish lampstand as used in the tabernacle.
The central main shaft is the Spirit of the Lord God, and the 3 pairs are all manifestations of the power residing in Him.
Oh my friends the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled this obedience to the Lord God in every respect. How obedient He was – how submissive to the Father’s will. He went to the cross to pay for sins that he had not committed – all because He had promised to do so before time began. “I will go and die for my people’s sins. I will go to suffer humiliation and pain; I will endure everything that sinful man can throw at me; I will give my life up so that there may be others who can have life and spend it with me for ever and ever in heaven.”
This was the submissive attitude of the Lord Jesus Christ. Do we appreciate these characteristics of the saviour? Can we not look at Him in amazement and awe and wonder – and be struck by this glorious and perfect person?
We said at the beginning how different to the cedar of Lebanon this twig and shoot is. This is how different – He has majestic and powerful qualities. The world of men knows nothing of this kind of power. The coalition armies are said to be the most powerful ever assembled.
But compared to the awesome power seen in Jesus Christ, they are nothing. This power secures the souls of men and makes them ready for eternity. This power changes dead souls into living ones. Man’s powers can only kill – Jesus’ power can make alive!
Jesus does not need cruise missiles to deal with His enemies – look at verse 4 –
But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
The Lord Jesus Christ will speak with authority against the wilfully disobedient. In the description of Christ in the Revelation chapter 1 there is this phrase –
16 and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
And in the next chapter of Revelation 2 v 16
Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
In the Messiah’s reign after His first coming Isaiah prophecies that He will reign in two ways – the first way is in His destruction of those who oppose Him – with the authority of the rod of His mouth. The archenemy Satan and his demons, and all those that follow him, will be slain by the word of the mouth of the Son of God.
But then there is the other way – and it is this -
3. The PEACEFUL REIGN of the King
There is a description of the difference that the King makes to His Kingdom.
But before we come to the details let us notice verse 5 –
And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.
In anticipation of the conflict with the wicked the Shoot of Jesse, the branch from David, will come equipped with a vital qualification – RIGHTEOUSNESS. Righteousness is conformity to God’s standards in everything. Every contest that the King fights he is supported by His righteousness. How we, His servants, need His righteousness when we fight our battles too. May we wear His breastplate of righteousness day by day and know faithfulness, stability in our lives. It is our only hope as we seek to meet and overcome the devil.
Now verses 6 to 9 – this peaceful reign.
What a remarkable picture is painted here. Many commentators have seen these pictures as a restoration of Paradise to its condition before the fall in the garden. Animals getting on with each other etc.
But there is a better view that has its key in the term in verse 9
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain:
My Holy Mountain I believe refers to the new heavens and the new earth – not a regaining of the old heavens and old earth. And it describes the Kingdom of Heaven as it is in the lives of true believers NOW! The description of peace and harmony is meant to convey the peace of those in Jehovah’s holy mountain, the Kingdom of God – those who have undergone a spiritual and moral transformation. It will be in the Holy Mountain that men will not destroy or hurt one another. Because Isaiah is prophesying a time when the ANIMAL, carnal, nature of man will be brought completely in subjection to and under the will of the King, the Lord Jesus Christ.
When a man or woman is converted then old things are passed away and behold all things become new! We become new creatures in Christ. The old person has become crucified in Christ and the new person is led with a childlike spirit, which has a simple alertness to hear and learn and a readiness to obey.
Has this happened to you my friend? We can apply this as we draw to a close and consider this – when a person is brought to a realisation of God in the soul – becomes convicted of sin and then repents of sin; there is evidence that God has come and begun the enlisting of that elect person into His Kingdom – making him or her into one of His citizens – with a brand new nature. Gradually the old nature disappears and the new nature becomes more and more obvious. This is what should be happening to every Christian – is it happening to you – because you are saved?
Have you truly turned to the Lord? Will you take Him at His word when he reveals Himself as that Mighty Counsellor with a Kingly Pedigree? He has the Power to save sinners – the power to change wicked people and make them into the kind of human beings that he designed – like His righteous Son the Lord Jesus Christ.
There are peace Protestors in these days chanting their slogans. They want PEACE. What sort of peace do they want? They want peace to be left to sin – peace to be left to indulge their own selfish desires.
That is not the Peace that Christ offers. He offers peace with Him – for the conflict that is coming is far worse than anything raging in Baghdad just now – one day men and women will appear before the judge of all men – and many will be in conflict – they will realise that they have no peace – for they have not sought God’s peace through Christ.
Colossians 1 v 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; 20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.